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When it comes to edtech are you ahead of the curve?

By Richard Wells, Group Schools & LGEM+ Manager, Danwood

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 06, 2016 | Primary

Opinion around the use of technology in education, or Edtech as it has come to be known, is divided. You’ll find just as many people saying Edtech is the solution to all education’s problems as those stating how ineffective it is, with some even saying it could be detrimental to learning. Despite this, over the course of the last year we have noticed a dramatic increase in institutions looking to embrace and use the latest Edtech in schools. 

Devices such as E-boards and 3D printers, as well as educational software and App-based programs are just some of the Edtech tools that are available in the classroom, and they have the ability to dramatically change how students learn. While there’s some desire to embrace Edtech, there are still a number of barriers that seem to be standing in the way of its wider adoption.

The perception that Edtech is expensive - Often schools believe they will not have the funds available to invest in the solutions. The reality is that in many cases Edtech solutions can be acquired at low cost (or in some cases, no cost at all) and often a school’s existing tech can be enhanced to host new software with multiple new apps constantly being made available. With a little bit of research, it’s easy to identify a number of suppliers who will provide useful free and low-cost apps available off the shelf, or in-house app writers who can assist a school by creating bespoke, self-financing apps that can dramatically improve the value on previous investments.

We frequently see a digital divide between students who are aware of the technology available and the school that may not be providing the latest innovations that the students are so keen to use. The best example of this is BYOD (bring your own device): students are used to having access to tablets, Chromebooks and other smart tech such as wearables at home, but cannot use them at school. This tends to be most visible when schools lack the print solutions that are compatible with personal devices.

In many cases Edtech solutions can be acquired at low cost (or in some cases, no cost at all)

The misconception that technology will eat into the schools already stretched budget – Schools are continuously counting the pennies, so there is a natural reluctance for schools to invest capital budgets in the latest technology when there are always so many other urgent requirements for a school’s finite resources. However, the reality is that schools are constantly spending large sums of money maintaining and running old equipment in an effort to ‘make the most of their money’, when it would be far cheaper to scrap the old, faulty, and run down equipment and replace it with state-of-the-art efficient technology with a revenue service and rental expense.

Confusion about who’s responsibility is it to keep up with the latest Edtech developments - As with many aspects of school life, there’s a responsibility for the school to create and maintain an environment where staff can excel and deliver the most to students, but it is the responsibility of the staff to be aware of the resources they have and maintain them to the highest possible level.

A school culture that encourages staff to share any concerns when additional needs are not being met in order to allow them to perform at the highest level should be encouraged. Whether that be suggesting the need for additional resources, flagging the desire for retraining or highlighting a more efficient use of the Edtech already in place. What’s more, it should never be assumed that when it comes to training on technology products that one size fits all, with a standard level that will suit every school and every teacher.

Whether Edtech is something you have already embraced or are yet to consider, it’s important to realise it is already having a great impact in the world of education. If it still sounds daunting, you can consider renting on a trial basis to see how best to integrate into the running of your school. After all, it’s far easier to be following the curve than struggling to keep up with it.   

W: www.danwood.com

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